FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jeff Locke is getting used to pitching at JetBlue Park. If the Pirates played in the American League East, that could be seen as a positive sign about his ability to pitch at Fenway. Instead, he'll take his strong outing on Wednesday as a step in the right direction along the path of getting ready for life in the National League Central.
In his third start of the spring, and second straight here in Fort Myers, Locke went four solid innings, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks while striking out three in Pittsburgh's 9-3 victory. It was a much better performance than his last JetBlue appearance, when the lefty yielded three runs over three innings on Friday.
"I was pretty happy with everything today," Locke said. "The only thing I wasn't really happy with was getting two quick outs and stuff happened. Everything felt really good today. I can't stress enough how much better it feels to come back here a week later and pitch better, regardless of who it's against."
Making his third Grapefruit League start, Locke allowed just one run and scattered three hits over four frames.
Locke sat the Red Sox down in order in the top of the first inning: Brock Holt flew out to left; Jonny Gomes flew out to left; and Jarrod Saltamacchia struck out swinging.
Locke also got the Sox 1-2-3 in the second inning: Mario Gomes flew out to center; JC Linares flew out to center; and Jackie Bradley Jr. was called out on strikes.
The Red Sox got a run in the third when Pedro Ciriaco singled with two outs and stole second; Holt walked; and Gomes doubled in the run. Locke got out of the inning by inducing a ground ball to first out of Saltamacchia.
Boston threatened in the fourth inning when Linares doubled and Bradley walked with one out, but Locke buckled down and struck out David Ross looking and then got Jose Inglesias to fly out to right to end the inning.
"That was one of the bright spots for him today, because he was behind in the count while he was out there," manager Clint Hurdle said. "The fact that he made pitches, he stayed away from the big inning, they scratched him for the one run, no more damage than that, he went out there four times, it was a good step forward for him.
"He had a much better outing than the last time he was here. Everything was fresher, everything was a little cleaner with a better downhill angle, a better quality of strikes when he was throwing."
"I was able to throw more pitches in the strike zone and keep the ball down a lot better," Locke said, in comparison to his last JetBlue outing. "There were some pretty well-stroked balls, but that's just a part of baseball. For me, personally, with it being Spring Training and you're preparing yourself for the season, it was definitely a step in the right direction today. I mixed up my pitches and I was able to get quality work from the windup and the stretch."
- Category: Personalities